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Studies & Degrees in Teacher Training for Physical Education

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Teachers in physical education are occupied with instructing students how to keep their bodies fit through exercise, nutrition, and other health practices. Physical education classes are usually structured around various types of exercise and physical activity, and sometimes they include instruction on nutrition and other health issues. As a physical education teacher, you would first need to be able to structure your class according to your students age – they can be elementary, middle school, or high school students; or you may act as a physical education educator in a different setting (i.e. a gym or a holistic center).

If you work as a physical education teacher in a school, the physical workout options usually involve a good range of activities, including participation in different sports and games. The curriculum may include team sports, one-on-one competitions, or individual games. This means that the physical education teacher would be responsible to instruct the students in learning the basic techniques and skills associated with these sports, as well as dance, gymnastics, track and field, aquatics, and recreational activities (for example canoeing).  The teacher would also have to instruct students in the safety procedures and practices in places like swimming pools, gymnasiums, and playing fields; participate in special events like inter-school sports programs, swimming and athletic carnivals, and lifesaving programs; and organize seminars on topics like stress management, study skills and sexually transmitted diseases.

Personal Qualities

If you have a love of sports and would like to pass your passion about healthy living and nutrition to young people and adults, then you would be perfectly suited for this profession. Further qualities include:

  • Be very patient and tactful
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Very good organizational skills
  • Enthusiastic about working with young people
  • Enjoy working in a school environment
  • Have some leadership qualities

Study Options

To become a physical education teacher, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree as well as a degree in education. You can pursue a bachelor’s degree in health, physical education, athletics, kinesiology, or dance, as such a background would equip you with the skills you need to coach sports and lead exercises. In addition to such a degree, if you wish to teach in a school, you would have to gain a degree in education, while also specifying the level of schooling you wish to teach at. If you study to become an elementary school teacher, most of your subjects would concentrate on child development, age appropriate fitness, and health issues. On the other hand, high school teachers are more concerned with the curriculum, classroom management, and preparation techniques for post secondary education.

Furthermore, depending on where you wish to practice, your potential employers may require you to become qualified to teach at least two subject streams. It is not an exception for a physical education teacher to combine this with a subject like English, or geography.

Career Options

To enhance your employability as a physical education teacher, you can start very early by looking for part-time positions as a sport instructor, coach, camp counselor, or tutor. Moreover, you can volunteer as an assistant teacher for elementary and high school students, which will definitely help you decide which age group you wish to specialize in.

If you decide to work in a school after you graduate, at the elementary school level you would generally focus on developing the students’ dexterity and coordination skills as well as teamwork skills. Furthermore, during these early years of a person’s life, you would have the responsibility to inspire a love and appreciation of physical activity in the pupils. This is why you would need to be truly enthusiastic about the games you organize, praising each child’s progress and development. On the other hand, in a secondary school environment, you would have a more defined curriculum, which would aim to develop students’ strengths and serve their interests. In relation to this, you can easily specialize in coaching a team sport like soccer, volleyball, basketball, football or baseball; or, some more unusual option like gymnastics, dance, or Pilates. Finally, many physical education teachers choose to also become certified fitness instructors. This can not only contribute to their income, but also give them broader knowledge on disciplines like aerobics, opening further opportunities for their careers.